These academics studied falsehoods spread by Trump. Now the GOP wants answers.
- June 6, 2023
Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan and his allies in Congress are demanding documents from and meetings with leading academics who study disinformation, increasing pressure on a group they accuse of colluding with government officials to suppress conservative speech.
Jordan’s colleagues and staffers met Tuesday on Capitol Hill with a frequent target of right-wing activists, University of Washington professor Kate Starbird, two weeks after they interviewed Clemson University professors who also track online propaganda, according to people familiar with the events.
Last week, Jordan (Ohio) threatened legal action against Stanford University, home to the Stanford Internet Observatory, for not complying fully with his records requests. The university turned over its scholars’ communications with government officials and big social media platforms but is holding back records of some disinformation complaints. Stanford told The Washington Post that it omitted internal records, some filed by students. The university is negotiating for limited interviews.
After that report was issued, Protect the Public’s Trust, which bills itself as a watchdog group, sent records requests to public universities that have used NSF grants to study disinformation, citing the Twitter Files and articles by the Foundation for Freedom Online in its requests. Protect the Public’s Trust sent requests to at least the University of Wisconsin at Madison, UNC Chapel Hill and Michigan State University, according to the universities and documents reviewed by The Post.
“The federal government has funded organizations involved in censoring American citizens’ speech and also funded university projects designed to feed and support what some have termed the Censorship Industrial Complex,” Protect the Public’s Trust’s director, Michael Chamberlain, said in a statement.